Well, got the chance to interview Ryan Hardy and we didn’t miss it. The Aussie stylemaster talk us through a lot of topics and reveals, at some point, he might return to the World Tour sooner than expected. The legend also predicts on the next World Champ. So, take a few minutes and get to know what Mr. Hardballs is doing these days. 

Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately?

Spending half the year in Bali, April till September with my family doing the Hardy Coaching Camps with Bali Bodyboarding and spending the other half in my hometown Margaret River. Mainly focussed on family life and giving my kids a good life wherever we go. I’ve been doing about one comp trip a year which has been to the Canaries the last two years which have been epic times!

Hardyshapes Boards and Reeflex Wetsuits, along with your own School and Bodyboarding Coaching Camps are pretty much your life these days. Still living the dream? 

Yes, definitely! Meeting my Bali Bodyboarding partner Aidan Salmon and creating the opportunity for my family to live in Bali six months of the year has been incredible!! A dream come true for my wife and I for sure.

The brands is a lot of work, particularly for my wife in the behind the scenes admin roles, but it’s quite rewarding to see the stoke that it provides and for me to support a team and spread the love and excitement to the bodyboarding world through these guys is a dream come true.

Mainly focussed on family life and giving my kids a good life wherever we go

How do you feel everytime you bring a new kid to Bodyboarding?

Well funnily enough it’s mostly the old kids that we reignite the stoke with here in Bali and it’s awesome! The majority of our camp clients are in their 30’s and discovered bodyboarding in their teens and are reconnecting with the good times of their past and loving it more than ever! It’s really cool to see!

I coach more young kids and first timers at home in Oz and that is always a buzz seeing the stoke on kids faces feeling the rush of the waves and discovering the fun of being at the beach with their friends.  It’s such a healthy environment for young kids with a lot of energy and bodyboarding is a perfect, safe outlet for them.

Those Summer Camps in Bali are sick. What is the best thing of spending 7 days in Bali getting tips from the stylemaster himself? 

Yew! I’d say the best parts about the camps for the guys is getting to surf a variety of waves in warm water with like minded bodyboard lovers and pushing their riding to the limit. Learning anything they every desired to know about or try on a bodyboard and be encouraged and coached along the journey with feedback and video analysis to keep the progression on track. Apart from this, discovering the unique culture of Bali and the beautiful scenery and its people are one of a kind.  It’s nice to share that and provide a good environment for people to enjoy their holiday in between physical sessions in the water.

The best parts about the camps is getting to surf a variety of waves in warm water with like minded bodyboard lovers 

In your opinion, what is style? And what is superior riding?

For me when I think of style, I think of my idols that I loved watching when I was growing up. Mike Stewart, Spencer Skipper some of the aussie riders like Tully Beevor, Matt Riley, Matt Percy, It is fast, powerful, flowing surf which is unique to the rider and their energy in the water, nothing forced. For me, style is flowing, controlled riding where you can see the rider has total control over their board and is flowing with the waves power.

Mike Stewart just turn 55 a few weeks ago. Bodyboarding for so long, at a high level as he does, is also a personal goal for you?

Yes, that is amazing about Mike’s age and amazing condition. I was watching short clips of him at Chile this year and his technique is still as sharp as ever and watching him at Fronton two years ago, his power, intensity and commitment is still all there as well which is just amazing!! So inspiring. It’s hard for me to look that far ahead – I’m 38, so that’s 17 years ahead when I’ll be 55, seems like a lifetime away!! In the short term I’m definitely focussing on keeping my body in the best physical form possible and looking after myself so when bodyboarding opportunities present themselves – be it a competition or free surfing or whatever, I can go as hard as ever. I’m just taking it a year at a time I guess, but I’m definitely conscious that right now I’m in peak condition in my overall life span and where there is opportunity I’ll be throwing myself at it!  

Style is flowing, controlled riding where you can see the rider has total control over their board 

Changing subject. Any chance to see you compete again full time on the World Tour? If not, on each events you will try to make an appearance? 

There is a chance that I will compete on the World Tour full time again because I really love it, but not right now while there are multiple events and I’m committed to being with my family and doing my Bali camps. If I can get to one event or perhaps two a year for now or the next few years then that’s happy days for me! Going to Fronton the last two years and also to Nazaré was a big highlight for my year, I really loved that!

From those amazing couple years of the IBA to the current APB Tour, how do you see the evolution of the sport? Are we on the right path?

I think the IBA years were a very fortunate time for the generation that were involved in that period. What happened since then to the World Tour and leading up the current APB Tour was inevitable and ultimately is the fate of our sport’s evolution. I think it’s evolving in a very healthy way where the tour is based form solid foundations very strongly connected to the sport. The organisation itself is non-profit and led by very passionate bodyboarders and takes advice from some of the sports best riders and experienced officials from around the World. The events themselves are being taken over by local bodyboard clubs and families, like we saw in Arica and it gives the event such a passionate push from the ground up and I really think this is the future for our sport. Only good things can come from having truly inspired individuals pumping their passion into making successful events.  Whether the sport receives financial backing like it had through the IBA years is a question mark, but there’s no doubt in the fact that the tour at a minimum will be a success surviving on the efforts of the bodyboarders themselves.

There is a chance that I will compete on the World Tour full time again because I really love it

You still follow the sport, right? So, let us know which riders you keen to watch nowadays and eventually who will be the new World Champ?

Travelling to Fronton I got to see all the current riders of the tour which was great to get an insight into where all the riders are at. It’s a pretty awesome time where there is a spread of generations now that are all ripping in their respective ways and making things really interesting on the tour. From the riders I saw there and have also watched throughout the year, I’d say Tanner McDaniel and Tristan Roberts are leading the next generation with their all round abilities, competitive drive and determination. As for guys I like to watch, I get really amped on following the progress and success of my Reeflex team riders – Jerry, Moz, Romero, Iain and Lewy – these guys are all amazing riders and it’s insane to watch these guys as their sponsor and cheering them all on. Prediction on World Champ for 2018 would be Tanner McDaniel because he’s got the taste of victory and has all the ingredients for a World Champ and knows more now about what all the losses mean and how he can keep winning and believing in himself. Like always it’ll be an incredible battle and there’ll be more than 10 guys who’ll be wanting to crush his dreams and make the title their own!

Prediction on World Champ for 2018 would be Tanner McDaniel because he’s got the taste of victory

Any young Australian to keep an eye for in the future? 

I’d like to think so! There’s a lot of good riders across the generations who are ripping and have good aspirations but the opportunity for these guys to travel and compete on the world tour are not there like they were when I was young unfortunately. Hopefully the future will hold something bright for the coming generations, because I feel there a lot of aspiring riders in the 12-15 year old age bracket that are at a really good level and would nothing more than to be the next Tanner McDaniel! Australian presence is definitely lacking on the world stage where we were once quite dominant so you can only hope the success of riders from other countries will fire up the aussies to get hungry and want to travel, compete and become champions.

Let’s do a throwback. Remember the Tahiti Skins in 2000? Was that the craziest bodyboarding event ever or what? Talk us through the waves you surfed, the conditions and the event’s victory in solid XXL pits… 

It was definitely the craziest event I was ever a part of. The mixture of riders across the generations was unbelievable looking back on it now from myself, Ben Player, Kingy and Lester to the No Friends riders like Skipp, Hubb and Roach through to the legends of the time Stewart, Tâmega, Taylor, Bullet… everyone was so amped to be in Tahiti competing in the first ever comp there and it was the predecessor to the Super Tour with a lot of media following it so everyone was together in a bid to move bodyboarding into a world of competing in big, heavy waves where bodyboarding would be seen in its best light. The final day was far from perfect Chopes (Teahupoo) with a lot of lump, but it was definitely a solid, thick and nasty type of swell and there were some incredible waves being ridden. My personal drive and desire to be a pro bodyboarder and become one of the best in the world elevated me to new heights in the final… paddling out amongst Stewart, Tâmega and Taylor at 20 years of age – I really felt I was in a dream and couldn’t believe it was really happening. Competing against my idols at Teahupoo in front of the world’s best riders cheering from the channel, including the aussie team who were going nuts amping me on while drinking beer on the boats. Hahahaha After a good first wave I was really pumped up and it was on my second set wave that I switched on extreme focus like never before and dropped into an 8 foot set, reading the wave very intently and deciding to throw in a 360 into the barrel… something I hadn’t thought about before, the opportunity just presented itself with a section looming down the line and I’d been practising them a lot at home in WA in the months previous. The spin worked perfectly, placing me deep in the barrel for the last section of the reef and then I came flying out the end and over the back of the wave to the roar of the channel. A sound and a moment I will remember for the rest of my life :)

[The Tahiti Skins] It was definitely the craziest event I was ever a part of

Global thinking… How do you see the sport these days? 

I think the sport these days is actually healthier than ever and mostly due to where we are at in the history of the sport and the fact that there are now multiple generations of bodyboarders. Sure there might not be as much money going back into the bodyboard industry right now like there was in the 90’s and athletes are earning less than ever, but I think the sport has evolved to a healthy place. The sport is really coming into it’s own on a worldwide basis.  Standup surfers know that bodyboarders are part of the lineup now. They may not like it but they know that bodyboarders congregate around heavy reef breaks and shore breaks and wedges and globally it is quite accepted that bodyboarders have their own presence, territories and place in the surfing world. Our sport is old enough now that we are seeing kids coming through from bodyboarding mums and dads and uncles and aunties and being raised in a very tight family atmosphere and this is often transcending into actual bodyboard clubs and while there are still rebel kids bodyboarding under hardcore surfer parents, there are a lot of bodyboarders coming from bodyboard parents and I think this will play a huge part in where the sport goes in the next 5 to 10 years. Once you’ve got mums and dads seeing how happy their kids are doing a sport that they loved when they were kids, then they are very likely to support that sport whether it be to get behind the local club to help out or contribute financially to help progress the sport. This will lead to sponsorships and financial backings from parents in corporate positions with money and budget expenditure to give towards a healthy sport that their kids and their friends love so much. So, yeah, in general I see the sport has been through some tough times but will only get healthier and receive stronger support from many levels in the years to come.  

Last question. What can we expect from you in the future? Goals? Projects?

That’s a hard one, I don’t like to look too far ahead these days. A year at a time, I just love being around my young family as much as I can and the fact that I can do a lot of bodyboarding with them and around them throughout the year is a dream come true. Definitely some more World Tour events in the future though and more travel to bodyboard destinations. That has always been a favourite thing for me to do in my life outside of family.

Photography by Phil Gallagher, Josh Tabone, Tom Jennings, Tom Forward & Lawrence Tierney